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Journal Of Porphyrins And Phthalocyanines


N-methyl mesoporphyrin IX (NMM) is a water-soluble, non-symmetric porphyrin with excellent optical properties and unparalleled selectivity for G-quadruplex (GQ) DNA. G-quadruplexes are non-canonical DNA structures formed by guanine-rich sequences. They are implicated in genomic stability, longevity, and cancer. The ability of NMM to selectively recognize GQ structures makes it a valuable scaffold for designing novel GQ binders. In this review, we survey the literature describing the GQ-binding properties of NMM as well as its wide utility in chemistry and biology. We start with the discovery of the GQ-binding properties of NMM and the development of NMM-binding aptamers. We then discuss the optical properties of NMM, focusing on the light-switch effect — high fluorescence of NMM induced upon its binding to GQ DNA. Additionally, we examine the affinity and selectivity of NMM for GQs, as well as its ability to stabilize GQ structures and favor parallel GQ conformations. Furthermore, a portion of the review is dedicated to the applications of NMM-GQ complexes as biosensors for heavy metals, small molecules (e.g. ATP and pesticides), DNA, and proteins. Finally and importantly, we discuss the utility of NMM as a probe to investigate the roles of GQs in biological processes.


G-quadruplex DNA, N-methyl mesoporphyrin IX, light switch, fluorescence, selectivity, parallel G-quadruplex

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


This work is freely available under a Creative Commons license.